Since Dec. 27, the world’s news media have likely published and broadcast literally thousands of interviews with, and comments from, ordinary Gazans. These interviews permit the Gazans to tell the story of their suffering at the hands of the Israeli military as the latter tries to root out the perpetrators of, and infrastructure that supports, Hamas’ relentless rocket attacks on Israel.
While what these people have to say is certainly newsworthy, I’m amazed that in gathering this information, not one of the hundreds of reporters, journalists radio and TV hosts has yet thought to ask a Gazan any of the following rather obvious questions:
Prior to the Israeli military response were you in favour of firing rockets at Israel?
Did you hope the rockets would kill or maim Israeli children?
Do you now wish Hamas had not (by launching rockets at Israel) ended the six-month-old truce?
Did you really think Israel would allow your government to fire 100 rockets a day at its citizens and do nothing?
Do you still support the firing of rockets at Israel?
Please explain why.
Have you ever seen anyone launch a rocket at Israel?
No? But I understand it’s done from densely populated civilian areas. Surely you must have seen it at least once or twice.
Yes, that must have been a rocket launch. Now did you ever suggest to a rocket crew that they do their launching from somewhere that civilians wouldn’t be hurt (as in, away from populated areas) if Israel tried to stop them?
Is that because you were afraid they’d kill you, or put you “on trial” as a Zionist collaborator?
Are you aware that members of Hamas’ leadership vowed to martyr themselves if Israel ever invaded?
Have you seen or heard from any of them lately?
How does it make you feel to know they are hiding in the basement of Shifa Hospital, knowing that Israel would never bomb it?
Did you vote for Hamas in the election?
Are you aware the Hamas charter says, “Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it, as it had eliminated its predecessors,” and that the charter in other ways requires the destruction of Israel?
Do you approve of that?
Is that why you voted for Hamas?
If a general election were held today, would you still vote Hamas?
Now, dear journalists, you will have to be careful. Any one of these questions gives the interviewee an opportunity to avoid the question and make your worthy news outlet an (unwitting, I’m sure) instrument of Hamas propaganda.
For example, if you ask a resident of Gaza if he or she approves of firing rockets at Israel, you may get a tirade about how Israel is the worst country on earth and continues to occupy Gaza despite the withdrawal, and so on and so forth. In these cases, you will have to interrupt and refocus the person’s attention on your question with a gentle: “Sir, my question was…” or “Madam, a simple yes or no will suffice.”
However, I can assure you that by following this simple guide, your reporting and interviewing will become not only more probing, but also, more importantly, fair and balanced.